Feb 17, 2013 5:00am PST
. benedict's successor faces several challenges both in the u.s. and around the world. seminary enrollment in the u.s. has fallen at a staggering rate also in europe. church attendance is down. the church's center of gravity has moved to africa and the church works through the legacy of widespread cover-up of rape by priests a cover-up that revealed institutional failures. given all this how exactly should we judge pope benedict's brief papacy and what's next for the world's largest and oldest institutions. i have to say, i was raised in the church, i was baptized in the church, my father was a jesuit seminaryian. i think my first question, i want to talk about the resignation itself because what i find fascinating is ratzinger is associated with the liberals, viewed later on as a reactionary. and yet his final act the final act for which he's known is this remarkably modern fit. here's this traditionalist who has done the most modern thing imaginable which is basically to say i'm too old to do the job which seems to me like a very wise common sensical thing but radical given the history.